I woke up the next morning with an uncomfortable head ache. My body weighed me down in the bed- a bed I wasn’t used to sleeping in. Everything from last night rushed back to me. I rolled over to find myself face to face with a sleeping Harvey. His mouth parted a little, letting out little sighs and his hair was tousled, falling in every direction. His eyes blinked open groggily just to close again as he snaked his arm around my waist and pulled me closer. I froze, feeling his skin against mine, his scent enveloping me. All of a sudden I felt very awake and very anxious. I was the kind of person to put a lot of thought into everything I did. Every choice I made. Last night was something out of the ordinary to me. Something big. I could have just ruined the only real friendship I’d ever had. Memories from last weekend in the woods flooded my mind and I was reminded of everything Harvey was going through. He needed to get better. Was this good for him? Was I just something to take his mind off of everything going on in his life? No, he wouldn’t use me like that. In this moment I felt very exposed as every terrible possibly ran through my head. Was it a mistake? What if he’d already decided it was a mistake? Maybe if I rejected myself for him, it would hurt a lot less.
“You okay?” Harvey mumbled. I was suddenly aware that I was sitting up, holding his sheets to my chest as his arm draped lazily across my stomach. I wanted to run.
“Yeah, I’m fine,” I lied through my teeth. I felt his energy change like he could sense it. “I gotta go, my parents are probably going to kill me,” I practically jumped out of his bed, throwing on a shirt and my dress from last night before hopping to his door, pulling on my shoes.
“That’s my shirt,” Harvey smirked, sitting up in the bed. I turned bright red.
“Uh, yeah, I’ll uh- I’ll-”
“Maeve, what’s wrong? Can we just-” he began to get up, his butterfly tattoo bathing in the morning sun.
“No, I’m totally fine, just need to get home! Bye!” I shut the door quickly behind me before practically running out of the house, checking behind me to make sure he wasn’t following. I made it a few blocks before my phone rang. It was Harvey.
“So you’re just gonna steal my shirt and run?” his voice was still groggy from waking up.
“No,” I laughed nervously.
“Turn around, shirt thief.”
I spun around on my heel to see his white Capri just down the street, making it’s way toward me. I turned back around and kept walking, my cheeks hot and my mind jumbled.
“I have pancakes and bacon at home and you just skip out on me. Now, will you please just tell me what’s wrong?” Harvey pulled up to me, driving slowly beside me.
“Nothing’s wrong, Harvey. I just want to be by myself.”
“You said the same thing last night when something was definitely wrong,” He said from behind the steering wheel. “Please, just get in and we can talk. I’ll take you home.”
“No,” I said a little too loud.
I made eye contact with an old lady who looked on from her porch across the street, seemingly amused by the situation. I was embarrassed.
“Fine,” I gave in, walking over to the passenger’s side and snatching the door open. I sat in silence as Harvey darted his eyes from the road to me.
“Now will you tell me what’s wrong?” he asked, his voice cracking a little. I broke down.
“Did I just mess up? Did we just mess up? Harvey, I’ve never had close friends before and I feel like you’re not supposed to kiss them or sleep with them and we haven’t made our intentions super clear. The lines are blurred and I’m just confused. I don’t know what I want. I don’t know if I’m ready for a relationship. I don’t know if you are. We both have so much to work through right now and then there’s college and I don’t want us to hold each other back and-”
“Do you want this?”
“Yes,” I answered, surprising myself.
“You’re thinking so much.”
“It’s kinda my thing.”
“Maeve, we’ll be whatever you want us to be.”
“I want us to grow. I don’t want either of us to hold the other back. I want to be independent because even though I’m alone a lot, I’m still learning how to be my own person. College is going to change that. It’s going to test us both and I don’t want you to have to worry about having an us when we’re barely good at being singular I’s right now. I want to be there for you. I want to love you. I want to have last night over and over again, but half of the reason I ran was because I was scared maybe it was a stupid drunken mistake. I already decided you’d think that before I even woke up. I’m sorry. I just... I don’t want you to ever be a one time thing,” my hands shook as I spoke.
“You’re the one that ran, Peterson,” Harvey jokingly smiled at me. I smiled back, feeling the warmth of his eyes on me again. “You can’t decide how I feel.”
“How do you feel?” I asked.
“I feel like I want you to be comfortable. I want us to just be who we are. We’ll be a fine line."
“What does that mean?”
“It means we don’t have to label anything we are. We’ll work on ourselves. We deserve that. We don’t have to be an us. We’re Harvey and Maeve, separately and together. No expectations. We just... exist.”
“I like that,” I smiled, reaching over for his hand. He pressed the brakes at a stop sign at the end of the road and looked over at me.
“Can I kiss you?” he asked. I pressed my hand to his cheek and nodded, bringing his face closer to mine.
"We’ll be alright,” he sighed.
- - - - - - -
“Maeve, you’ll never believe what I found,” Harvey burst through our front door, papers spilling out of his arms. His baby blue painted nails shuffled through words and pictures before finally finding the document he’d been looking for. “You know how we talked about those different murder cases in the meadow a few days ago?”
I nodded quickly, overwhelmed by his excitement. In the last week, Harvey hadn’t talked about anything but these cases. He was finding new connections every day, but sometimes I was scared he was getting a little obsessive. He could do that with things he was passionate about and he’d been gone all day. I sat at the kitchen table drinking a glass of wine, watching him in awe as he cleared a place to throw down his evidence.
“The government is covering this shit up. It’s everywhere,” he shoved a newspaper article in my face before continuing his rant, “I looked online and physically went to five different places to find this article. It’s all being erased. I talked to Jerry on the phone and he said the police department called The Harold a few days ago and told them to cut the article all together.”
“Why?” I asked, sipping on the glass of red wine in my hand. I was beginning to be concerned that this was consuming him.
“I don’t know. There’s something way deeper going on here. I’m driving to Griffin tomorrow to meet-”
“Babe, that’s five hours away.”
“I know, but if I get up at 4 AM, I can get there by 9 AM and be back home for dinner.”
“Maeve, this could be something huge. If this is something big, my whole career could change.”
I carefully placed my wine glass on the table and sat back in my chair. The man I loved stood in front of me with a passionate look in his eye, hair disheveled and dark circles highlighting his lack of sleep he’d mentioned before. It was 9 PM and I hadn’t heard from him since this morning when he went out on his article search.
“Why do you look worried?” he asked, folding his arms against his chest.
“I just... I’m concerned you’re getting into something dangerous. Maybe there’s a reason why the police told the Harold to cut the case,” I said softly.
“Maeve, if I don’t do this, nobody else will.”
“I’m not telling you to stop looking into it completely, but I just don’t want you to get hurt. You haven’t slept well the past few nights. Can’t you just take a break?”
“I don’t have time to take a break. This stuff is getting erased more and more every day.”
“Harvey, please. You have to be exhausted.”
“I’m fine, Maeve!” Harvey threw his arms in the air with a sigh. “Sometimes you’re not the only one that knows what’s best for me.”
I was tired. Tired from my day. Tired of worrying about him. Tired of saying something to him and knowing it wasn’t going through his skull. I could tell he was tired too and this conversation wasn’t going to be a productive one.
“I’m going to bed,” I pushed myself up from the table and made my way to the bedroom, my bare feet padding against the hardwood floor.
I heard Harvey pull a chair out at the kitchen table and sit down. I stopped at the threshold of the bedroom, pulling my hair down from a tangled bun before looking back at him. He sat with head in his hands, hair softly falling in his eyes.
“Haz,” I called. He looked up. Without saying anything, he got up from the table and trudged toward me.
“I’m not gonna be the one to break the golden rule,” he chuckled, placing a soft kiss on my cheek.
We made a rule when we first moved in together that no matter what, we wouldn’t go to bed angry at each other. We put aside our issues for the night and if there were any bad feelings left in the morning, we’d talk about it then, after we cooled off. Harvey pulled off his white tee shirt and black jeans, flinging them to the floor and jumping onto the bed, opening his arms to me. I crawled into the cool sheets, letting Harvey pull me close to his chest.
“I’m sorry I haven’t been here,” he whispered, pressing his lips to the top of my head.
“It’s okay,” I replied, my fingertips tracing the outline of the swallow tattoo under his collarbone.
“It’s not. I’ll be better,” he looped my pinky in with his own, “I promise.”
“I love you.”
“I love you too, Maeve. Goodnight,” he sighed, rolling over and turning off the light.